Re: US:Ford ad decision angers gay groups
Ford ads will run in gay media
Automaker says its decision to drop Jaguar and Land Rover ads had been misperceived.
Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 31, 2005: American Family Association launches a boycott against Ford Motor Co. saying the automaker has given thousands of dollars to gay rights groups, offers benefits to same-sex couples and targets gay customers with advertising.
June 7: AFA suspends boycott until Dec. 1 after meeting with Ford officials and dealers.
Nov. 30: AFA announced it was lifting the boycott after meeting with Ford executives and dealers.
Dec. 6: Ford Motor Co. confirms its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover brands will no longer advertise in gay publications.
Monday: Ford met with several gay and lesbian organizations about their concerns over the automaker's advertising policies.
Wednesday: Ford said it would reinstate and expand the scope of its advertising in gay publications after criticism from gay rights groups.
WASHINGTON-- Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it would buy corporate advertising in gay and lesbian publications in 2006, responding to concerns that it had dropped ads to end a conservative group's boycott of Ford brands.
In a letter to seven gay-rights groups it met with in Washington Monday, Joe Laymon, Ford's head of human resources, said the company's decision to drop ads for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay and lesbian publications in 2006 had been misperceived.
"As a result, we have decided to run corporate ads in these targeted publications that will include not only Jaguar/Land Rover but all eight of Ford's vehicle brands," Laymon said.
"It is my hope that this will remove any ambiguity about Ford's desire to advertise to all important audiences and put this particular issue behind us," Laymon added.
The turnabout is Ford's latest response to an ideological quandary that has alternately put the automaker at odds with conservatives and liberals.
Ford has faced a firestorm of protest in the gay community since last week, when news broke that the American Family Association, a conservative group based in Tupelo, Miss., ended a six-month boycott after a meeting with Ford representatives. The group cited Ford's decision to drop ads in gay publications as a factor in its decision.
The Human Rights Campaign Wednesday welcomed Ford's commitment to "equality and fairness."
"Advertising all of its brands in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered press makes a strong statement," said David Smith, vice president of policy and strategy at the Human Rights Campaign. "We believe this represents more than what was asked for. Ford did a really good job of clearing the air."
In its letter, Ford said it valued diversity among all "constituents," and its corporate values include "respect for our customers, communities, employees, suppliers and dealers." Ford said all of those commitments remain unchanged.
The company will continue to support events in the gay and lesbian community, but is curtailing charitable support "in all communities" in 2006, the letter said.
The American Family Association did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
On Monday, the group said it would not make any further comment on Ford advertising.
Public relations experts said Ford made a mistake by putting itself in the middle of one of the country's hottest cultural wars.
Ford abandoned a core principles of corporate P.R., that beliefs and business do not mix, said Jim Sanfilippo, senior industry analyst with AMCI, a Bloomfield Hills marketing consulting firm.
In doing so, Ford jeopardized its standing in a very important and growing market segment, he said.
By correcting its mistake -- which was appearing to give in to pressure exerted by the American Family Council -- Ford should be able to move on, Sanfilippo said.
"They are not in the same space with that group," Sanfilippo said. "You cannot satisfy them unless you accede to their beliefs. Ford Motor Co. isn't in the business of beliefs. They believe all purchasers are equal."
The groups Ford met with were the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Triangle Foundation, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and the National Black Justice Coalition.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....